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Netanyahu insists on adopting a hard line policy against African immigrants

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that his government would continue its hard line policy to combat the flow of African refugees and immigrants into Israel.

Netanyahu's statement followed Israel's Supreme Court decision to challenge the legitimacy of a law that Netanyahu introduced in January 2012. The law authorizes the detention of refugees and migrants in detention centres for a period of up to three years. Netanyahu said that although the Court's decision must be respected, "I am determined in cooperation with the Interior Minister and the Attorney General to find ways that are consistent with the Court's decision which still enable us to apply our hard line policy that has stopped previous waves of immigration and returned many of them to their home countries"

Netanyahu's comments came at a time when members of the Israeli right were raising questions yesterday about the legitimacy of the Supreme Court of Justice's intervention in the laws enacted by the Knesset.

Ayelet Shaked, a member of the Knesset and chairwoman of "the Jewish home" extreme bloc, announced that her party will work after the holiday when the Knesset resumes its winter session to examine the Supreme Court's intervention in the Knesset's affairs and its violation of the Knesset's independence and the principle of the separation of powers.

Shaked said in an interview with Israel Radio, that the court's decision undermined the government's Defensive Shield to protect against waves of migration, noting that if necessary, the party will work to amend the basic laws that define the Supreme Court's role and powers.

The release of thousands of detainees

According to Haaretz newspaper, the Court's decision was surprising in particular to Netanyahu's office and the Ministry of Interior. The government is currently studying the decision's repercussions. The government has to find an alternative solution within 90 days or release more than two thousand detainees in detention centres in the Beersheba area.

According to the newspaper, since the Supreme Court's decision is final and cannot be appealed against, the Israeli government has to find a new alternative to fight the influx of political refugees and migrant workers without violating the court's decision. The government faces three possibilities.

The first is to enact a new law that is less stringent and does not violate human rights as the Chairman of the Supreme Court Judge Asher Gruns suggested in the court's decision.

The second alternative is to involve the Israeli government in a new campaign "to convince the refugees and migrants to willingly return to their homes" and seek to reach an agreement with an African country to absorb migrants within its borders. The Israeli government had attempted such a move previously with Uganda. Israel had tried to convince the African country to absorb the African migrants, in exchange for financial support and military aid.

The final alternative is to adopt former Interior Minister Eli Yishai's policy, which is based on the principle of harassing immigrants and "making their lives in Israel more intolerable."

Middle EastNews
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